Last night my sons took me out to our favorite local Mexican restaurant, and I had visions of a lovely evening full of stimulating conversation, intelligent discussion, and familial bonding. Right. When you're done snickering, read on to find out what really happened.
This auspicious occasion wasn't prompted by my birthday or another celebration, but by my having blown my stack last week, screaming at them about how they were disrespectful and I was tired of being treated like the maid, adding, "I was going to take you guys out to dinner Sunday while Scott is at a gig, but you can forget that!" So after I stopped foaming at the mouth, and they apologized and promised to be perfect angels for the rest of their lives (or something along those lines), Ben actually came up with the idea of still going to dinner if they paid. Which is sweet, but not as amazing as one might think, given that both my boys have way more petty cash on hand than I ever do; David has a job as a hebrew school aide, and Ben collects loose change and hoards allowance on those rare occasions I remember to give it. Still, I appreciated the thought, as well as the chance to skip cooking for a night.
And we did have some lovely moments - David drove (ah, the dreaded permit) and only took 8 attempts before he sort of fit into the parking space; Ben opened the door for me (and didn't slam it in David's face, for the most part); they both waited for me to order first - so in my relaxed optimistic frame of mind, I decided it would be a good time to start talking about Ben's bar mitzvah project (they have to create some sort of community service effort, for a cause of their choice). David suggested something to do with animals, I mentioned we could check out the animal shelter where we got our dog, and suddenly both boys were off on a discussion of how gross the various cages would be, and what different animal poop might look and smell like. At this point, they both were in hysterics and Ben had Dr. Pepper coming out of his nose. My pitiful "Boys, I'm serious, this is important!" just made them laugh harder.
They eventually calmed down, and I settled for hearing about the movie they'd seen at their dad's, when the waiter brought a lidded container of piping hot tortillas - Ben lifted the lid, steam poured out, and this prompted another giggling conversation about how effective a weapon they could make out of hot mexican food (and yes, flatulence did figure into the discussion). Meanwhile, I stared enviously at the family at the next table with three well-behaved little girls who were probably talking about Laura Ingalls Wilder and saving polar bears. But when I refocused on my own family, the boys were in a deep discussion of why bar mitzvah parties were cool and what kind of suit David thought Ben should wear - okay, it wasn't Nietzche, but it was still heart-warming.
So all in all the evening was a success - only next time, in the hopes of a slightly more civilized conversation, we're not going anywhere near a restaurant that serves beans. (Mothers of sons will understand what I mean!)